New selective licensing scheme launched in five Brent council wards on 1 June 2018
A second selective licensing scheme covering five council wards was introduced in the London Borough of Brent on 1 June 2018. Under the new scheme, all private rented properties in the council wards of Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queen’s Park must now be licensed by the council.
The council already operated a borough wide additional licensing scheme together with selective licensing in the council wards of Harlesden, Wembley Central and Willesden. Both schemes came into force on 1 January 2015.
While Brent Council had wanted to extend selective licensing borough wide, that proposal was blocked by the Secretary of State who instead authorised this smaller scheme. The decision was made on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, poor housing conditions, migration and high levels of crime.
According to the council’s Cabinet report, the new licensing will cover around 4,300 private rented homes.
Landlords and letting agents who are unaware of the new licensing scheme or fail to apply risk facing tough enforcement action. If a licence application is not submitted, both the landlord and agent can face prosecution in the Magistrates Court, or a civil penalty of up to £30,000 per property. Under new rules introduced in 2017, the tenants can also apply for a Rent Repayment Order to recover up to 12 months rent.
Raid uncovers 16 people living in a two-bedroom flat in Kingsbury
To coincide with the launch of this latest licensing scheme, Brent Council released details about a dawn raid in Kingsbury that uncovered sixteen people crammed into a two bedroom flat above a shop.
Enforcement officers had entered the property in Kingsbury Road with police and found that the tenants far exceeded the number of people who would be permitted to live there under licensing rules.
Mattresses, bunkbeds and sofa beds had been packed together in the two bedrooms and living room space within the poorly ventilated flat. Fire escapes had been blocked while a smoke alarm was found hanging off the ceiling during the raid that took place on 24 May.
One occupant told enforcement officers that he was paying £50 a week for a bed space. If each of the 16 tenants paid the same amount, the landlord may have been pocketing around £3,200 a month from housing the occupants in substandard living conditions.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for Housing and Welfare Reform at Brent Council said:
“Housing tenants in unsafe conditions is against the law. Rogue landlords exploiting their tenants by forcing them to live in Dickensian conditions should be on notice – we will take the strongest possible enforcement action to protect our residents.“
To find out more about the property licensing in Brent or to gain assistance with the licensing process, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/brent
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